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G.R. No. L-24693 July 31, 1967

INC. and GO CHIU, petitioners-appellees,
VICTOR ALABANZA, intervenor-appellee.

Panganiban, Abad and Associates Law Office for respondent-appellant.

J. M. Aruego, Tenchavez and Associates for intervenor-appellee.


The principal question in this appeal from a judgment of the lower court in an action for prohibition is
whether Ordinance No. 4760 of the City of Manila is violative of the due process clause. The lower
court held that it is and adjudged it "unconstitutional, and, therefore, null and void." For reasons to be
more specifically set forth, such judgment must be reversed, there being a failure of the requisite
showing to sustain an attack against its validity.

The petition for prohibition against Ordinance No. 4760 was filed on July 5, 1963 by the petitioners,
Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association, one of its members, Hotel del Mar Inc., and a
certain Go Chiu, who is "the president and general manager of the second petitioner" against the
respondent Mayor of the City of Manila who was sued in his capacity as such "charged with the
general power and duty to enforce ordinances of the City of Manila and to give the necessary orders
for the faithful execution and enforcement of such ordinances." (par. 1). It was alleged that the
petitioner non-stock corporation is dedicated to the promotion and protection of the interest of its
eighteen (18) members "operating hotels and motels, characterized as legitimate businesses duly
licensed by both national and city authorities, regularly paying taxes, employing and giving livelihood
to not less than 2,500 person and representing an investment of more than P3 million."1 (par. 2). It
was then alleged that on June 13, 1963, the Municipal Board of the City of Manila enacted
Ordinance No. 4760, approved on June 14, 1963 by the then Vice-Mayor Herminio Astorga, who
was at the time acting as Mayor of the City of Manila. (par. 3).

After which the alleged grievances against the ordinance were set forth in detail. There was the
assertion of its being beyond the powers of the Municipal Board of the City of Manila to enact insofar
as it would regulate motels, on the ground that in the revised charter of the City of Manila or in any
other law, no reference is made to motels; that Section 1 of the challenged ordinance is
unconstitutional and void for being unreasonable and violative of due process insofar as it would
impose P6,000.00 fee per annum for first class motels and P4,500.00 for second class motels; that
the provision in the same section which would require the owner, manager, keeper or duly
authorized representative of a hotel, motel, or lodging house to refrain from entertaining or accepting
any guest or customer or letting any room or other quarter to any person or persons without his filling
up the prescribed form in a lobby open to public view at all times and in his presence, wherein the
surname, given name and middle name, the date of birth, the address, the occupation, the sex, the
nationality, the length of stay and the number of companions in the room, if any, with the name,
relationship, age and sex would be specified, with data furnished as to his residence certificate as
well as his passport number, if any, coupled with a certification that a person signing such form has
personally filled it up and affixed his signature in the presence of such owner, manager, keeper or
duly authorized representative, with such registration forms and records kept and bound together, it
also being provided that the premises and facilities of such hotels, motels and lodging houses would
be open for inspection either by the City Mayor, or the Chief of Police, or their duly authorized
representatives is unconstitutional and void again on due process grounds, not only for being
arbitrary, unreasonable or oppressive but also for being vague, indefinite and uncertain, and likewise
for the alleged invasion of the right to privacy and the guaranty against self-incrimination; that
Section 2 of the challenged ordinance classifying motels into two classes and requiring the
maintenance of certain minimum facilities in first class motels such as a telephone in each room, a
dining room or, restaurant and laundry similarly offends against the due process clause for being
arbitrary, unreasonable and oppressive, a conclusion which applies to the portion of the ordinance
requiring second class motels to have a dining room; that the provision of Section 2 of the
challenged ordinance prohibiting a person less than 18 years old from being accepted in such
hotels, motels, lodging houses, tavern or common inn unless accompanied by parents or a lawful
guardian and making it unlawful for the owner, manager, keeper or duly authorized representative of
such establishments to lease any room or portion thereof more than twice every 24 hours, runs
counter to the due process guaranty for lack of certainty and for its unreasonable, arbitrary and
oppressive character; and that insofar as the penalty provided for in Section 4 of the challenged
ordinance for a subsequent conviction would, cause the automatic cancellation of the license of the
offended party, in effect causing the destruction of the business and loss of its investments, there is
once again a transgression of the due process clause.

There was a plea for the issuance of preliminary injunction and for a final judgment declaring the
above ordinance null and void and unenforceable. The lower court on July 6, 1963 issued a writ of
preliminary injunction ordering respondent Mayor to refrain from enforcing said Ordinance No. 4760
from and after July 8, 1963.

In the a answer filed on August 3, 1963, there was an admission of the personal circumstances
regarding the respondent Mayor and of the fact that petitioners are licensed to engage in the hotel or
motel business in the City of Manila, of the provisions of the cited Ordinance but a denial of its
alleged nullity, whether on statutory or constitutional grounds. After setting forth that the petition did
fail to state a cause of action and that the challenged ordinance bears a reasonable relation, to a
proper purpose, which is to curb immorality, a valid and proper exercise of the police power and that
only the guests or customers not before the court could complain of the alleged invasion of the right
to privacy and the guaranty against self incrimination, with the assertion that the issuance of the
preliminary injunction ex parte was contrary to law, respondent Mayor prayed for, its dissolution and
the dismissal of the petition.

Instead of evidence being offered by both parties, there was submitted a stipulation of facts dated
September 28, 1964, which reads:

1. That the petitioners Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association, Inc. and Hotel
del Mar Inc. are duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines, both with
offices in the City of Manila, while the petitioner Go Chin is the president and general
manager of Hotel del Mar Inc., and the intervenor Victor Alabanza is a resident of Baguio
City, all having the capacity to sue and be sued;

2. That the respondent Mayor is the duly elected and incumbent City Mayor and chief
executive of the City of Manila charged with the general power and duty to enforce
ordinances of the City of Manila and to give the necessary orders for the faithful execution
and enforcement of such ordinances;

3. That the petitioners are duly licensed to engage in the business of operating hotels and
motels in Malate and Ermita districts in Manila;
4. That on June 13, 1963, the Municipal Board of the City of Manila enacted Ordinance No.
4760, which was approved on June 14, 1963, by Vice-Mayor Herminio Astorga, then the
acting City Mayor of Manila, in the absence of the respondent regular City Mayor, amending
sections 661, 662, 668-a, 668-b and 669 of the compilation of the ordinances of the City of
Manila besides inserting therein three new sections. This ordinance is similar to the one
vetoed by the respondent Mayor (Annex A) for the reasons stated in its 4th Indorsement
dated February 15, 1963 (Annex B);

5. That the explanatory note signed by then Councilor Herminio Astorga was submitted with
the proposed ordinance (now Ordinance 4760) to the Municipal Board, copy of which is
attached hereto as Annex C;

6. That the City of Manila derived in 1963 an annual income of P101,904.05 from license
fees paid by the 105 hotels and motels (including herein petitioners) operating in the City of
Manila. 1äwphï1.ñët

Thereafter came a memorandum for respondent on January 22, 1965, wherein stress was laid on
the presumption of the validity of the challenged ordinance, the burden of showing its lack of
conformity to the Constitution resting on the party who assails it, citing not only U.S. v. Salaveria, but
likewise applicable American authorities. Such a memorandum likewise refuted point by point the
arguments advanced by petitioners against its validity. Then barely two weeks later, on February 4,
1965, the memorandum for petitioners was filed reiterating in detail what was set forth in the petition,
with citations of what they considered to be applicable American authorities and praying for a
judgment declaring the challenged ordinance "null and void and unenforceable" and making
permanent the writ of preliminary injunction issued.

After referring to the motels and hotels, which are members of the petitioners association, and
referring to the alleged constitutional questions raised by the party, the lower court observed: "The
only remaining issue here being purely a question of law, the parties, with the nod of the Court,
agreed to file memoranda and thereafter, to submit the case for decision of the Court." It does
appear obvious then that without any evidence submitted by the parties, the decision passed upon
the alleged infirmity on constitutional grounds of the challenged ordinance, dismissing as is
undoubtedly right and proper the untenable objection on the alleged lack of authority of the City of
Manila to regulate motels, and came to the conclusion that "the challenged Ordinance No. 4760 of
the City of Manila, would be unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void." It made permanent the
preliminary injunction issued against respondent Mayor and his agents "to restrain him from
enforcing the ordinance in question." Hence this appeal.

As noted at the outset, the judgment must be reversed. A decent regard for constitutional doctrines
of a fundamental character ought to have admonished the lower court against such a sweeping
condemnation of the challenged ordinance. Its decision cannot be allowed to stand, consistently with
what has hitherto been the accepted standards of constitutional adjudication, in both procedural and
substantive aspects.

Primarily what calls for a reversal of such a decision is the absence of any evidence to offset the
presumption of validity that attaches to a challenged statute or ordinance. As was expressed
categorically by Justice Malcolm: "The presumption is all in favor of validity x x x . The action of the
elected representatives of the people cannot be lightly set aside. The councilors must, in the very
nature of things, be familiar with the necessities of their particular municipality and with all the facts
and circumstances which surround the subject and necessitate action. The local legislative body, by
enacting the ordinance, has in effect given notice that the regulations are essential to the well being
of the people x x x . The Judiciary should not lightly set aside legislative action when there is not a
clear invasion of personal or property rights under the guise of police regulation.2

It admits of no doubt therefore that there being a presumption of validity, the necessity for evidence
to rebut it is unavoidable, unless the statute or ordinance is void on its face which is not the case
here. The principle has been nowhere better expressed than in the leading case of O'Gorman &
Young v. Hartford Fire Insurance Co.,3 where the American Supreme Court through Justice Brandeis
tersely and succinctly summed up the matter thus: The statute here questioned deals with a subject
clearly within the scope of the police power. We are asked to declare it void on the ground that the
specific method of regulation prescribed is unreasonable and hence deprives the plaintiff of due
process of law. As underlying questions of fact may condition the constitutionality of legislation of
this character, the resumption of constitutionality must prevail in the absence of some factual
foundation of record for overthrowing the statute." No such factual foundation being laid in the
present case, the lower court deciding the matter on the pleadings and the stipulation of facts, the
presumption of validity must prevail and the judgment against the ordinance set aside.

Nor may petitioners assert with plausibility that on its face the ordinance is fatally defective as being
repugnant to the due process clause of the Constitution. The mantle of protection associated with
the due process guaranty does not cover petitioners. This particular manifestation of a police power
measure being specifically aimed to safeguard public morals is immune from such imputation of
nullity resting purely on conjecture and unsupported by anything of substance. To hold otherwise
would be to unduly restrict and narrow the scope of police power which has been properly
characterized as the most essential, insistent and the least limitable of powers,4 extending as it does
"to all the great public needs."5 It would be, to paraphrase another leading decision, to destroy the
very purpose of the state if it could be deprived or allowed itself to be deprived of its competence to
promote public health, public morals, public safety and the genera welfare.6 Negatively put, police
power is "that inherent and plenary power in the State which enables it to prohibit all that is hurt full
to the comfort, safety, and welfare of society.7

There is no question but that the challenged ordinance was precisely enacted to minimize certain
practices hurtful to public morals. The explanatory note of the Councilor Herminio Astorga included
as annex to the stipulation of facts, speaks of the alarming increase in the rate of prostitution,
adultery and fornication in Manila traceable in great part to the existence of motels, which "provide a
necessary atmosphere for clandestine entry, presence and exit" and thus become the "ideal haven
for prostitutes and thrill-seekers." The challenged ordinance then proposes to check the clandestine
harboring of transients and guests of these establishments by requiring these transients and guests
to fill up a registration form, prepared for the purpose, in a lobby open to public view at all times, and
by introducing several other amendatory provisions calculated to shatter the privacy that
characterizes the registration of transients and guests." Moreover, the increase in the licensed fees
was intended to discourage "establishments of the kind from operating for purpose other than legal"
and at the same time, to increase "the income of the city government." It would appear therefore that
the stipulation of facts, far from sustaining any attack against the validity of the ordinance, argues
eloquently for it.

It is a fact worth noting that this Court has invariably stamped with the seal of its approval,
ordinances punishing vagrancy and classifying a pimp or procurer as a vagrant;8 provide a license
tax for and regulating the maintenance or operation of public dance halls;9 prohibiting
gambling;10 prohibiting jueteng;11 and monte;12 prohibiting playing of panguingui on days other than
Sundays or legal holidays;13 prohibiting the operation of pinball machines;14 and prohibiting any
person from keeping, conducting or maintaining an opium joint or visiting a place where opium is
smoked or otherwise used,15 all of which are intended to protect public morals.
On the legislative organs of the government, whether national or local, primarily rest the exercise of
the police power, which, it cannot be too often emphasized, is the power to prescribe regulations to
promote the health, morals, peace, good order, safety and general welfare of the people. In view of
the requirements of due process, equal protection and other applicable constitutional guaranties
however, the exercise of such police power insofar as it may affect the life, liberty or property of any
person is subject to judicial inquiry. Where such exercise of police power may be considered as
either capricious, whimsical, unjust or unreasonable, a denial of due process or a violation of any
other applicable constitutional guaranty may call for correction by the courts.

We are thus led to considering the insistent, almost shrill tone, in which the objection is raised to the
question of due process.16 There is no controlling and precise definition of due process. It furnishes
though a standard to which the governmental action should conform in order that deprivation of life,
liberty or property, in each appropriate case, be valid. What then is the standard of due process
which must exist both as a procedural and a substantive requisite to free the challenged ordinance,
or any governmental action for that matter, from the imputation of legal infirmity sufficient to spell its
doom? It is responsiveness to the supremacy of reason, obedience to the dictates of justice.
Negatively put, arbitrariness is ruled out and unfairness avoided. To satisfy the due process
requirement, official action, to paraphrase Cardozo, must not outrun the bounds of reason and result
in sheer oppression. Due process is thus hostile to any official action marred by lack of
reasonableness. Correctly it has been identified as freedom from arbitrariness. It is the embodiment
of the sporting idea of fair play.17 It exacts fealty "to those strivings for justice" and judges the act of
officialdom of whatever branch "in the light of reason drawn from considerations of fairness that
reflect [democratic] traditions of legal and political thought."18 It is not a narrow or "technical
conception with fixed content unrelated to time, place and circumstances,"19 decisions based on
such a clause requiring a "close and perceptive inquiry into fundamental principles of our
society."20 Questions of due process are not to be treated narrowly or pedantically in slavery to form
or phrases.21

It would thus be an affront to reason to stigmatize an ordinance enacted precisely to meet what a
municipal lawmaking body considers an evil of rather serious proportion an arbitrary and capricious
exercise of authority. It would seem that what should be deemed unreasonable and what would
amount to an abdication of the power to govern is inaction in the face of an admitted deterioration of
the state of public morals. To be more specific, the Municipal Board of the City of Manila felt the
need for a remedial measure. It provided it with the enactment of the challenged ordinance. A strong
case must be found in the records, and, as has been set forth, none is even attempted here to attach
to an ordinance of such character the taint of nullity for an alleged failure to meet the due process
requirement. Nor does it lend any semblance even of deceptive plausibility to petitioners' indictment
of Ordinance No. 4760 on due process grounds to single out such features as the increased fees for
motels and hotels, the curtailment of the area of freedom to contract, and, in certain particulars, its
alleged vagueness.

Admittedly there was a decided increase of the annual license fees provided for by the challenged
ordinance for hotels and motels, 150% for the former and over 200% for the latter, first-class motels
being required to pay a P6,000 annual fee and second-class motels, P4,500 yearly. It has been the
settled law however, as far back as 1922 that municipal license fees could be classified into those
imposed for regulating occupations or regular enterprises, for the regulation or restriction of non-
useful occupations or enterprises and for revenue purposes only.22 As was explained more in detail
in the above Cu Unjieng case: (2) Licenses for non-useful occupations are also incidental to the
police power and the right to exact a fee may be implied from the power to license and regulate, but
in fixing amount of the license fees the municipal corporations are allowed a much wider discretion in
this class of cases than in the former, and aside from applying the well-known legal principle that
municipal ordinances must not be unreasonable, oppressive, or tyrannical, courts have, as a general
rule, declined to interfere with such discretion. The desirability of imposing restraint upon the number
of persons who might otherwise engage in non-useful enterprises is, of course, generally an
important factor in the determination of the amount of this kind of license fee. Hence license fees
clearly in the nature of privilege taxes for revenue have frequently been upheld, especially in of
licenses for the sale of liquors. In fact, in the latter cases the fees have rarely been declared

Moreover in the equally leading case of Lutz v. Araneta24 this Court affirmed the doctrine earlier
announced by the American Supreme Court that taxation may be made to implement the state's
police power. Only the other day, this Court had occasion to affirm that the broad taxing authority
conferred by the Local Autonomy Act of 1959 to cities and municipalities is sufficiently plenary to
cover a wide range of subjects with the only limitation that the tax so levied is for public purposes,
just and uniform.25

As a matter of fact, even without reference to the wide latitude enjoyed by the City of Manila in
imposing licenses for revenue, it has been explicitly held in one case that "much discretion is given
to municipal corporations in determining the amount," here the license fee of the operator of a
massage clinic, even if it were viewed purely as a police power measure.26 The discussion of this
particular matter may fitly close with this pertinent citation from another decision of significance: "It is
urged on behalf of the plaintiffs-appellees that the enforcement of the ordinance could deprive them
of their lawful occupation and means of livelihood because they can not rent stalls in the public
markets. But it appears that plaintiffs are also dealers in refrigerated or cold storage meat, the sale
of which outside the city markets under certain conditions is permitted x x x . And surely, the mere
fact, that some individuals in the community may be deprived of their present business or a
particular mode of earning a living cannot prevent the exercise of the police power. As was said in a
case, persons licensed to pursue occupations which may in the public need and interest be affected
by the exercise of the police power embark in these occupations subject to the disadvantages which
may result from the legal exercise of that power."27

Nor does the restriction on the freedom to contract, insofar as the challenged ordinance makes it
unlawful for the owner, manager, keeper or duly authorized representative of any hotel, motel,
lodging house, tavern, common inn or the like, to lease or rent room or portion thereof more than
twice every 24 hours, with a proviso that in all cases full payment shall be charged, call for a different
conclusion. Again, such a limitation cannot be viewed as a transgression against the command of
due process. It is neither unreasonable nor arbitrary. Precisely it was intended to curb the
opportunity for the immoral or illegitimate use to which such premises could be, and, according to
the explanatory note, are being devoted. How could it then be arbitrary or oppressive when there
appears a correspondence between the undeniable existence of an undesirable situation and the
legislative attempt at correction. Moreover, petitioners cannot be unaware that every regulation of
conduct amounts to curtailment of liberty which as pointed out by Justice Malcolm cannot be
absolute. Thus: "One thought which runs through all these different conceptions of liberty is plainly
apparent. It is this: 'Liberty' as understood in democracies, is not license; it is 'liberty regulated by
law.' Implied in the term is restraint by law for the good of the individual and for the greater good of
the peace and order of society and the general well-being. No man can do exactly as he pleases.
Every man must renounce unbridled license. The right of the individual is necessarily subject to
reasonable restraint by general law for the common good x x x The liberty of the citizen may be
restrained in the interest of the public health, or of the public order and safety, or otherwise within the
proper scope of the police power."28

A similar observation was made by Justice Laurel: "Public welfare, then, lies at the bottom of the
enactment of said law, and the state in order to promote the general welfare may interfere with
personal liberty, with property, and with business and occupations. Persons and property may be
subjected to all kinds of restraints and burdens, in order to secure the general comfort, health, and
prosperity of the state x x x To this fundamental aim of our Government the rights of the individual
are subordinated. Liberty is a blessing without which life is a misery, but liberty should not be made
to prevail over authority because then society will fall into anarchy. Neither should authority be made
to prevail over liberty because then the individual will fall into slavery. The citizen should achieve the
required balance of liberty and authority in his mind through education and personal discipline, so
that there may be established the resultant equilibrium, which means peace and order and
happiness for all.29

It is noteworthy that the only decision of this Court nullifying legislation because of undue deprivation
of freedom to contract, People v. Pomar,30 no longer "retains its virtuality as a living principle. The
policy of laissez faire has to some extent given way to the assumption by the government of the right
of intervention even in contractual relations affected with public interest.31 What may be stressed
sufficiently is that if the liberty involved were freedom of the mind or the person, the standard for the
validity of governmental acts is much more rigorous and exacting, but where the liberty curtailed
affects at the most rights of property, the permissible scope of regulatory measure is wider.32 How
justify then the allegation of a denial of due process?

Lastly, there is the attempt to impugn the ordinance on another due process ground by invoking the
principles of vagueness or uncertainty. It would appear from a recital in the petition itself that what
seems to be the gravamen of the alleged grievance is that the provisions are too detailed and
specific rather than vague or uncertain. Petitioners, however, point to the requirement that a guest
should give the name, relationship, age and sex of the companion or companions as indefinite and
uncertain in view of the necessity for determining whether the companion or companions referred to
are those arriving with the customer or guest at the time of the registry or entering the room With him
at about the same time or coming at any indefinite time later to join him; a proviso in one of its
sections which cast doubt as to whether the maintenance of a restaurant in a motel is dependent
upon the discretion of its owners or operators; another proviso which from their standpoint would
require a guess as to whether the "full rate of payment" to be charged for every such lease thereof
means a full day's or merely a half-day's rate. It may be asked, do these allegations suffice to render
the ordinance void on its face for alleged vagueness or uncertainty? To ask the question is to
answer it. From Connally v. General Construction Co.33 to Adderley v. Florida,34 the principle has
been consistently upheld that what makes a statute susceptible to such a charge is an enactment
either forbidding or requiring the doing of an act that men of common intelligence must necessarily
guess at its meaning and differ as to its application. Is this the situation before us? A citation from
Justice Holmes would prove illuminating: "We agree to all the generalities about not supplying
criminal laws with what they omit but there is no canon against using common sense in construing
laws as saying what they obviously mean."35

That is all then that this case presents. As it stands, with all due allowance for the arguments
pressed with such vigor and determination, the attack against the validity of the challenged
ordinance cannot be considered a success. Far from it. Respect for constitutional law principles so
uniformly held and so uninterruptedly adhered to by this Court compels a reversal of the appealed

Wherefore, the judgment of the lower court is reversed and the injunction issued lifted forthwith. With

Reyes, J.B.L., Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro and Angeles, JJ., concur.
Concepcion, C.J. and Dizon, J., are on leave.